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Over the years, I’ve expressed annoyance on my blogs about people who find out I’m going to visit City A or live in Country B, then ask with astonishment, “Why?”
When people I meet tell me they’re having a baby or buying a house, I don’t ask why. Because it’s a social norm to do so. Moving to China … not such a social norm.
More blog posts about the value of travel:
However, maybe it’s a valid question. Why do we do any of these things? Also, most people don’t have the urge to move to a vastly different country or to drop all the money in their savings accounts on a plane ticket. Or if they do have that urge, they don’t follow through, for one reason or another.
So why do I travel?
Here are all the reasons. The good. The bad. The ugly. The embarrassing.
And if anyone feels up to it, I’d love to hear some of your reasons for traveling! Especially if they’re embarrassing.
To Experience My 20s
Yeah, I know, this is kind of a cliché reason.
I really, really, really respect people who spend their retirement years traveling.
I applaud people who are dedicated enough to travel with small children or monstrous debt. (Is it bad that those two things are equal in my eyes? Yikes! It’s becoming apparent as I type this post that I am not ready to be a mom yet!)
But as life goes on, most of us acquire more responsibilities. Our 20s are a fairly carefree time, compared to what awaits down the road. I want to see the world before I get caught up in a career, children, more bills, and possibly more debt.
Also, I know myself, and I have a pretty obsessive personality. Once I have kids or a career, I will be so focused on those things that I might shove traveling to the side.
To Make Myself Feel More Interesting
I don’t know if this is necessarily why I travel. But I won’t lie, my trips do make me feel like an interesting person.
Is that bad? It’s bad, isn’t it? I don’t know why, but it seems bad.
On the other hand, I’ve realized my most interesting stories aren’t usually about my travels. They’re usually about the weirdos I’ve associated myself with, family dinner conversations, and my first year of college.
To Make the Most of My Time
I’m an obnoxiously productive person. I don’t like the idea of not working or accomplishing anything in a day. For example, I’m technically on vacation right now, but I still have an entire list of pieces I want to draft/write/edit/submit this week.
When I travel, I’m always doing and seeing new things. On a trip, I’m constantly learning or experiencing something I never have before.
Also, when I live abroad, I always feel like I’m doing something! I’m not just drinking coffee … I’m drinking coffee in a classic kiwi cafe! I’m not just waiting for the bus … I’m waiting for a squeaky Chinese bus packed with people chattering in a language I can’t speak. In a way, everything is an experience. So everything I do feels “productive.”
To Accumulate Writing Material
Some of you know that I’m a freelance writer.
I started travel writing for two reasons. First, I love traveling. Second, I love writing. (That was pretty simple, right?) Writing is how I express myself, and it’s a fun way to share my experiences with other people.
So I don’t necessarily travel just to write. They go hand-in-hand.
However, sometimes when I wonder, “Hmmmm, should I go to this festival/new restaurant/clog dancing show?” I remember that I could write about the event. That reminder motivates me to get up and out the door, rather than lie in bed and watch Friends. Again.
Here are some examples:
- How to Build Relationships at Your Chinese School
- My B-List Celebrity Experience
- Hallasan: Hiking the Highest Peak of South Korea
It’s Who I Am
Let’s be honest, traveling is just part of who I am. People identify themselves as runners, painters, readers, parents, and students. I identify as a traveler.
At least for now.
Maybe traveling won’t always be part of who I am. But for now, I love to experience other cultures. I’m happy spending my time and money traveling. So I’ll keep doing it as long as it gives me a sense of fulfillment.